A free tourist shuttle bus service is generously provided by the powers-that-be in Melbourne to enable visitors to get around the city without it costing them anything.
Because it is free, you can imagine that it's not used exclusively by tourists. As you can hop on and off it as many times as you want, I imagine many native Melburnians take advantage of it, too.
This service is no longer free. For a brief period there was a $5 fee for an all-day ticket and, during that day, you could still use it as much as you want. Now I have been informed, via feedback, that the only option is a two-day ticket, costing $10. At this rate, it'll soon be cheaper to get a myki card and use the trams. Anyway, tickets can be obtained in the Melbourne Visitor Centre at Federation Square, or from ticket machines situated at each stop. These machines only accept coins or credit cards.
These distinctive red vehicles run every half hour, from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The entire route takes around 90 minutes and there are thirteen stops in total.
Here are details of each stop the tourist shuttle bus makes:
1. The Arts Precinct.
2. Federation Square.
3. The Sports Precinct.
4. Theatre District and Chinatown.
5. Melbourne Museum.
6. Lygon Street.
7. University of Melbourne.
8. Victoria Market.
10. Victoria Harbour.
11. William Street
13. Royal Botanical Gardens.
Alison and I, plus her Dad, took the tourist shuttle bus to get to Victoria Market. (Needless to say, it was Alison's idea, the market.) We waited at the Federation Square stop and, eventually one turned up. As the bus stopped, many people disembarked and we got on, along with all the other people that were waiting.
It was at this point I realised just how "popular" this service was. There was still a lot of passengers on the bus and we ended up being packed in like sardines. I'm sure there must be some safety issue here, but that's the way it is. Fortunately, a polite young man offered his seat to Alison's Dad, which was a good thing, as he's getting on in years a bit.
Alison and I had to stand, however and, with being constantly thrown from side to side as the bus turned corners, it was an extremely uncomfortable experience.
We caught the tourist shuttle bus back from the market and, thankfully, we all got seats!
So, if you decide to use this service, based on my experience, don't expect the most comfortable of rides.